For years now, Active-Duty members, Reservists, and veterans have been told that they are not able to claim compensation from the Federal government in their state for the mistakes committed against them. This has created a major stress for current soldiers who have to pay for a faulty procedure or medical guidance.
Members of those in the National Guard or the Reserves are often worried about their job when they are called to active duty. Stressors like this can result in unproductive soldiers in the field, however, they aren't likely to get a word on an issue at work until they've returned at home.
It's not easy to sort through in a small amount of time, and even though there are safeguards provided for them by the courtesy of the presidency of President Bush and his administration, they are not guaranteed. States as well as the Federal government are free to do what they'd like. Particularly when it comes down to the possibility of reassigning an individual veteran to an appropriate position once they return to their home country. It's already difficult enough to convince the veteran to stay in a job as they are serving.
Now, in a landmark ruling of 5-4, the Supreme Court has ruled that state agencies are not immune from lawsuits brought by private parties under federal laws that protect troops. This ruling is a victory for Le Roy Torres, a veteran of the military and ex-employee from the Texas Department of Public Safety. Due to a disability related to service that he suffered, he was not able to work as an officer of the state trooper.
Instead of resigning completely, he applied for an alternative job that could accommodate the disability. When he was denied the job the applicant filed a suit under federal law only to see the case dismissed in the state court. In the end, he was unsuccessful time and time again until an appeal was filed in the Supreme Court.
Justice Stephen Breyer penned the majority ruling, including the Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh as well as others from the liberal side. This is quite a surprise considering that most liberals have left veterans in the dust for a long time, but Justice Kavanaugh has been on their side for years.
The state of Texas used to argue that states are exempt from legal proceedings brought by federal courts under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act that was enacted under the war powers of Congress power. Because the laws were enacted to ensure that those serving don't face disadvantages when they get back to work following an injury that was caused by service.
Surprisingly enough, the dissent was written by Justice Clarence Thomas. The Justice was also supported by justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett. In his statement, he said “history and precedent” illustrate that “when the States ratified the Constitution, they did not implicitly consent to private damages actions filed in their own courts — whether authorized by Congress' war powers or any other Article I power.”
Steve Vladeck, a CNN Supreme Court analyst and professor at the University of Texas School of Law believes that many people will be shocked by this decision. “For more than 25 years supreme court justices were suspicious of Congress's power to approve damages suits against states that do not consent under all of their Article I powers…In 2006, the court ruled that there was a limited exemption for bankruptcy law. In the present, the court has added an additional exception to the war powers. It's not difficult to see the reason Congress may be the only one that allows the federal government to take over the states, however every exception throws the fundamental principle further into doubt.”
Anyone who's worked for the federal or state government understands how difficult it can be to serve if you're a member of the group that is managing the affairs. As an active veteran, you won't have any kind of security if you're not in the same group, particularly if you require help after an injury that occurred while working. This is a great thing for all veterans across the US and rightly so!